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A city surrounded by mountains, rivers, and beautiful forests, Portland is a hotspot for outdoor activities. Environmentally-minded Portland is the perfect place to explore all that nature has to offer. Whether you are looking for peace and quiet or raging waters, these breathtaking spots are the best places to go canoeing and kayaking in Portland.

Portland is a vibrant community for outdoor enthusiasts. Teeming with energy and adventure, kayaking in Portland is an epic experience for all ages and abilities. Portland’s wide variety of waterways creates a diverse and thrilling way to explore nature. While paddling, you will have the opportunity to explore Portland’s vast forests and spot native wildlife. Kayaking down well known sites like White Salmon River, or hidden gems like Scappoose Bay, will excite any paddle enthusiast. Below is a guide we created to help you have an awesome time canoeing and kayaking around Portland.

Best Places to Go Canoeing and Kayaking in Portland

the rushing waters of Portland, oregon's waterways are amazing places to go kayaking in Portland and explore scenic environments.
Exploring Portland’s natural beauty is best done by boat! Photo Credit: Hardebeck Media (Pixabay)

Willamette River

This epic waterway is one of Oregon’s most beautiful treasures. From petrified forests to acres of greenways, the Willamette River is one of the most popular places to go canoeing and kayaking in Portland.

Stretching hundreds of miles, each section of the Willamette River is calm enough for novice paddlers yet still boasts exciting scenery for all paddlers to enjoy. Drawing from the purest lake in the nation, Waldo Lake, Willamette River is not only a clean watershed resource but also home to nearly 50 different fish species (my favorite is rainbow trout). Also, while you’re paddling be on the lookout for shiny jasper and petrified wood!

No matter the season, Willamette’s smooth water is the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors. Around the river, visitors also enjoy swimming at Poet’s Beach, hiking around Forest Park, and exploring the famous Powell’s City of Books. Most importantly, Willamette Valley is known as an outstanding wine country! People from all over visit Willamette Valley to taste some of the best wine in the nation.

With tons of put-ins along the river, you can truly customize your water adventure. From city kayaking to peaceful tributaries, the Willamette River has it all. Docks in Oregon City and North Portland offer easy access to this beautiful waterway from downtown. If you need to rent a kayak or other gear, check out Portland Kayak Company.

How to Get There: The easiest way to get to the Willamette River is to drive. If you are driving, take I-5 S and take exit 243 toward Ankeny Hill. Continue on Sidney Rd. S until you reach the river.

Clackamas River

Just 20 minutes from downtown Portland, Clackamas River is the ideal river rafting, floating, and paddling destination for adventure-seekers. Each section of this river offers a different experience- the upper Clackamas has Class II-V rapids perfect for white water rafting trips. For those looking for a more relaxing paddle, the Lower Clackamas’ rambling waters make for a wonderful float trip.

Many paddlers really enjoy kayaking around a tranquil stretch of water beginning at the Olallie Butte which flows through stunning areas of Mt. Hood National Forest. This southern section of the river is perfect for lazy river float trips and relaxing summer paddles.

However, if you are looking for a thrilling water adventure, the northern segment of the river is home to epic rapids. Altogether, this stretch of rapids is about 13.5 miles. While some courageous kayakers attempt all 13.5 miles on one trip, it is popular to do a 4 mile-long run from Fish Creek to Bob’s Hole. Small yet mighty, Clackamas River is packed with adventure around every bend.

With so much to try so close to Portland, Clackamas River is a popular destination for canoeing and kayaking near Portland. The Barton put-in is closest to Portland, and therefore usually the most crowded. I’d recommend driving the extra five minutes to Mclver or Carver areas to start your journey.

You can launch your own boat from any put-in along the river. Or, if looking to rent gear or want to book a guided tour the Clackamas River Outfitters has everything you need. They are conveniently located at three locations: Estacada Outpost, Timber Park and Milo Mclver State Park.

How to Get There: The best way to get to the Clackamas River is to drive. If you are driving, take OR-224 E toward Clackamas. Continue on FS-4613 until you reach the river.

Scappoose Bay

Catering toward beginners and families, Scappoose Bay’s intricate network of lakes, channels, and tributaries is a peaceful oasis for canoe and kayakers. Just 30 minutes from downtown Portland, Scappoose Bay is the perfect place to find some peace and quiet.

A haven for wildlife, this sheltered area is home to numerous species of birds and fish, most you can spot from your boat! Scappoose Bay’s flat waters truly make kayaking Portland easy, relaxing, and accessible to all ability levels.

Right on the shore, paddlers can rent gear from and enjoy Scappoose Bay Marine Park. Here, visitors can take part in “gunkholing”, which means to meander in and out of shallow marshes and streams. Along with this peaceful activity, Scappoose Bay is known to be an excellent spot for paddle board yoga and fishing.

You can enjoy paddling around this flat, shallow area in about 3 hours. If you are looking for a longer paddle, visitors are encouraged to keep paddling to St. Helens Marina which is a few more miles down the Columbia River. Canoe, kayak, and paddle board rentals are available from Next Adventure’s Scappoose Bay Paddling Center.

How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Scappoose Bay is to drive. If you are driving, take I-405 N and take exit 3 on the left for U.S. 30 W toward Saint Helens. Continue on Old Portland Rd. to the bay.

kayaking in Portland's Clackamas River is super relaxing and open to all ability levels.
Kayaking down the Clackamas River is a relaxing and scenic experience! Photo Credit: Dolanh (Flickr CC)

Tualatin River

A cool, mellow river to cool off in during those hot summer days, Tualatin River is truly a place where outdoor lovers gather to enjoy Portland’s natural resources. With easy access from Tualatin Community Park, Tualatin River is a nice place for novices to try kayaking in Portland.

While most visitors enjoy paddling around the park area, those looking for more challenging waters should paddle down to the last 2 miles of the river. There, small rapids offer a fun change of pace as Tualatin River joins the Willamette River. Soon after the rapids, kayakers can pull aside and enjoy Willamette Park.

Maintained by the community, Tualatin River’s pristine waters are the culmination of the riverkeepers’ hard work. Truly a community effort, when paddling around Tualatin Community Park kayakers will feel a strong sense of unity and belonging among other outdoor enthusiasts.

If new to paddling or looking for a quiet spot, Tualatin is a wonderful place to go canoeing and kayaking in Portland. If you need to rent gear, check out Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe.

How to Get There: The best way to get to the Tualatin River is to drive. If you are driving, take I-405 N and Take exit 1D for U.S. 26 W toward Beaverton. Continue on SW River Rd. to the river.

Sparks Lake

If you are in the mood for adventuring into true wilderness, paddling around Sparks Lake should be at the top of your list. Formed 10,000 years ago from Mount Bachelor’s volcanic eruptions, Sparks Lake’s ancient beauty is a wonderful place to go canoeing and kayaking near Portland.

This shallow lake is ideal for novice paddlers and those who want to explore rugged terrain. Not only is the Deschutes National Forest a breathtaking backdrop for your water adventure, but Sparks Lake also has tons of campsites on the shore for overnight trips.

Sparks Lake is the perfect spot for beginners and young children because the lake is only 10 feet deep! Bonus- many visitors also enjoy the 2.5 mile-long hike along Sparks Lake’s volcanic shoreline (the trailhead is named Ray Atkinson Hiking Trail). Connecting to the Deschutes River, Sparks Lake offers a quiet oasis from the otherwise busy river.

From its formation to now, Sparks Lake embodies the joy of getting outdoors and exploring nature’s beauty. You can explore this volcanic lake on your own free of cost. Or, you can rent gear from Bend Kayak School.

How to Get There: The best way to reach Sparks Lake is to drive. If you are driving, take I-5 S and Take exit 138 toward Downtown/Mt Bachelor. Continue on Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway to the lake.

Chetco River

An oasis for advanced outdoorsmen, Chetco River’s rugged terrain and hidden location offer a total getaway from the busy city. Sandwhiched between two famous whitewater runs, North Fork and the Illinois River, Chetco River offers equally challenging whitewater kayaking without all of the crowds.

Known for its water being “as clear as gin”, outdoor lovers are drawn to Chetco River’s unique scenery and intense paddling. Chetco River and its surrounding ecosystems were majorly impacted by the Biscuit Fires of 2002. To this day, the Kalmiopsis Wilderness is still recovering, so please paddle with caution during your trip!

While Chetco River’s private location fosters some of the most beautiful scenery and wildlife in Oregon, it also makes it a little difficult to reach. However, with some planning it really is no problem! Most visitors access the river from Slide Creek which is a 4 mile downhill hike to Chetco. Or, more adventurous paddlers enjoy accessing Chetco from Babyfoot Lake, a 9 mile hike from the river. Either way, kayaking down Chetco River is truly an outdoor adventure- from hiking to paddling this journey has it all!

You can portage your own canoes to these access spots free of charge. Or, you can rent gear from Smith River Kayaks. This shop, and many others nearby, rent kayak gear and offer whitewater kayaking tours of the area.

How to Get There: The easiest way to get to the Chetco River is to drive. If you are driving, take I-5 S toward Crescent City. Then, continue on  N Bank Chetco River Rd. to the river.

Chetco River is a beautiful place to go canoeing and kayaking in Portland!
The Chetco River is a beautiful place to go canoeing and kayaking near Portland! Photo Credit: U.S. Forest Service (Flickr CC)

Henry Hagg Lake

Just 30 minutes from downtown Portland, Henry Hagg Lake is one of the many beautiful waterways in the Tualatin Valley. Known for its epic fishing, Henry Hagg Lake is the perfect spot to finally try kayak fishing.

One of the best parts about Henry Hagg Lake is that half of the water is a dedicated no wake zone. Therefore, these flat waters are perfect for novice paddlers and famailies paddling with young children. With 15 miles of sandy shoreline, paddlers can choose from tons of beach banks and have a private picnic spot.

This quiet lake is a wonderful spot for any ability to try canoeing and kayaking in Portland! From kayak fishing to sandy shores, Henry Hagg Lake is an idyllic paddling spot for all! Besides being a super convenient paddling spot, visitors also love Henry Hagg Lake’s 15 mile-long bike path along the shoreline.

You can launch your own boat at Henry Hagg Lake. Or, check out Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe for kayak gear rentals, tours, and lessons.

How to Get There: The best way to get to Henry Hagg Lake is to drive. If you are driving, take I-405 N and take exit 1D for U.S. 26 W toward Beaverton. Continue on SW Herr Rd. to the lake.

Sauvie Island

Full of history and charm, Sauvie Island is certainly an outdoor lover’s dream! With tons of wildlife and natural areas, a trip to Sauvie Island will truly immerse you in Oregon’s nature.

Sturgeon Lake on the north end of the island is the best spot for canoeing and kayaking on Sauvie Island. There, paddlers can see views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Mt. St.Helens right from their boats! Sturgeon Lake connects to two other waterways which are also great for paddling. Because this is island kayaking, some experience is necessary to paddle with ease around the island.

Kayakers looking for a challenge can paddle in the open water around the island. Otherwise, many visitors love paddling to Oak Island, a peninsula with epic hiking trails. Whether you have Oak Island as destination in mind or just want to paddle freely, there is no shortage of outdoor activities at Sauvie Island! Bonus- there is a pumpkin patch and blueberry farm on the island!

In addition to beautiful waterways, Sauvie Island is home to amazing historical landmarks. Visitors can explore Fort William and Warrior Rock Lighthouse, the smallest operational lighthouse in Oregon! There are also tons of hiking trails to lead you around the island (we recommend the Oak Island trail).

You can launch your own boat at Sauvie Island. Or, you can rent canoe and kayak gear from Scappoose Bay Paddling Center.

How to Get There: The easiest way to reach Sauvie Island is to drive. If you are driving, take I-405 N and take exit 3 on the left for U.S. 30 W toward Saint Helens. Continue on Sauvie Island Bridge to the island.

Smith and Bybee Wetlands Area

Located between the Columbia River and Slough, Smith and Bybee Wetlands Area beholds some of the most breathtaking sights as America’s largest protected wetland area.

Sprinkled with lakes and streams, this wetland area is a hotspot for canoeing and kayaking in Portland. The lakes are usually visitors’ go-to spot for paddling, but smaller waterways offer a unique glimpse of the wetland’s ecosystem and wildlife. If bird watching and spotting critical species is up your ally, then kayaking through these serene wetlands is the perfect place for you to explore.

This easy-going paddle destination is a haven for endangered wildlife and holds one of the largest populations of bald eagles and beavers in the nation! An immersive nature experience, canoeing and kayaking around Smith and Bybee Wetlands Area is sure to be an eye-opening journey.

You can launch your own boat on the preserve and can even paddle down to Kelley Point Park which connects the wetlands to the Columbia River. Or, you can rent gear from the Portland Kayak Company. Throughout the year, the Portland Zoo also offers tours of the area!

How to Get There: The best way to get to the Smith and Bybee Wetlands Area is to drive. If you are driving, take I-405 N and take the Interstate 5 N exit toward Seattle. Continue on Marine Drive W to the preserve.

kayaking in portland offers spectacular views of mountains and other beautiful geological formations.
Kayaking in Oregon offers spectacular views of mountains! Photo Credit: Milford Sound (Flickr CC)

White Salmon River

With rapids galore it is no wonder that White Salmon River is one of the most visited places to go whitewater rafting and kayaking in Portland each year! Mostly Class III rapids, White Salmon River is a fun challenge for intermediate paddlers.

Besides the legendary Class III, IV and V rapids throughout the river, White Salmon River is known for the beautiful Husum Falls. Said to be the largest commercially run waterfall in the U.S., Husum Falls is a thrilling obstacle for rafters and paddlers to overcome.

Nestled in a forested canyon, White Salmon River is surrounded by densely packed forests and lush green lands. If you are looking for a thrilling outdoor adventure, then White Salmon River has the perfect conditions for your next journey.

You can launch your own rafts and kayaks, but make sure to bring a helmet and be prepared for the rapids! Otherwise, you can rent gear and book trips and tours through Wet Plant Whitewater Rafting.

How to Get There: The best way to get to White Salmon River is to drive. If you are driving, take I-84 toward Mt. Hood/White Salmon. Continue on WA-141 N to the river.

Ross Island

Many people think in order to have a great kayaking experience you must travel far to get immersed in nature. But when it comes to kayaking in Portland, there are tons of flat water opportunities right in the heart of downtown. Ross Island is one of the best places for novice paddlers to explore the outdoors right in downtown Portland.

Most paddlers put-in at Sellwood Riverfront Park. Launching right off of the park’s sandy beaches, visitors can enjoy the easy 5 mile loop around Ross Island. While paddling on Ross Island’s calm waters, you will see blue herons, bald eagles, and of course, ospreys.

Besides stunning skyline views, paddlers can also kayak past the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Here, outdoor lovers can catch a glimpse of the critical species that call Oregon home. With the Portland skyline in the distance and wildlife all around, kayaking at Ross Island really is the best of both worlds. Bonus- it is so close to downtown Portland you can easily fit a paddle trip into your busy schedule!

Even though Ross Island is privately owned, you can launch your own boat from Sellwood Riverfront Park. Or, you can rent kayak gear and book tours of Ross Island through Portland Kayak Company.

How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Ross Island is to drive. If you are driving, take OR-99 E and continue straight onto SE McLoughlin Blvd to the lake.

Rogue River

Ranked in the top 8 best rafting and white water paddling in the world, Rogue River has a range of rapids and calm waters that will bring adventure to your next paddling trip. Rogue River’s waters are accessible to all ability levels, but intermediate and experienced paddlers will especially love the consistent Class III rapids.

Most kayakers choose to put-in their boats at Grave Creek Bridge. From there, its a wild ride! Class III rapids will guide you downstream (with a dash of calmer waters mixed in). Eventually, paddlers will reach Rogue River’s epic challenge: Rainie Falls. Beyond Rainie Falls, kayakers can continue cruising downstream and even spot bears in the surrounding forests.

A known setting for early adventure writing- from authors like Zane Grey- a day spent at Rogue River will undoubtedly be full of adventure! There are tons of outfitters that offer guided rafting trips down the river to help you navigate these rushing waters.

You can launch your own boat at Grave Creek Bridge, and remember to be mindful of the rapids! Or, you can rent gear and reserve guided tours through Northwest Rafting Company. From Class III rapids to quiet streams, Rogue River will certainly keep your next paddle trip interesting!

How to Get There: The best way to get to Rogue River is to drive. If you are driving, take I-5 S and take exit 48 toward Savage Rapides Dam. Continue on Berglund St. to the river.

Rogue River is a wonderful place for float trips and paddle trips surrounded by beautiful green forests.
Float and paddle trips are awesome ways to explore Rogue River in Portland. Photo Credit: Alphonso Dryer (Flickr CC)

Alton Baker Canal

University of Oregon students and faculty get ready- Alton Baker Canal is calling your name! Stretching from Eugene to Springfield, Alton Baker Canal is a super accessible canal perfect for beginners to test out their skills! Only a few miles long, the Alton Baker Canal is ideal for a quick paddle full of beautiful scenery.

A quick walk from the University of Oregon campus and Autzen Stadium, Alton Baker Canal is easy to get to (especially for college students)! Along the canal, there is the opportunity to portage, but it is not necessary. Avid fishermen will also love the canal because it is stocked with trout.

Whether you are looking to practice your flat water kayak skills or want to escape into nature, Alton Baker Canal is a wonderful spot for all ability levels- especially people on campus looking for an easy paddle trip!

You can launch your own boat from the ramp near the stadium. Or, you can rent boats from Northwest Canoe Tour.

How to Get There: The best way to reach the Alton Baker Canal is to drive. If you are driving, take I-5 S toward Eugene. Continue on Day Island Rd. to the river.

Upper Deschutes River

Both paddling and floating down the Upper Deschutes River are popular ways of exploring Oregon’s natural beauty! From grassy plains to volcanic formations, the Deschutes River is full of intrigue and adventure.

The Upper Deschutes River, near Bend, is the calmer portion of the river. Here, paddlers can enjoy up to a full day of paddling around beautiful scenery. The river’s flat waters and gentle current also make it ideal for float trips!

As the river flows downstream, the water becomes a bit more challenging. Therefore, it is recommended to stay near the Dillon Falls area where visitors can explore Paulina Peak’s volcanic formations. A truly breathtaking place for outdoor adventuring, all types of paddlers enjoy the Deschutes River and its surrounding aspen groves and mountain views.

With miles upon miles of kayaking available, most paddlers turn canoeing the Deschutes River into a half or whole day outdoor experience. This scenic river will absolutely not disappoint! You can launch your own boat near Dillon Falls. Or, you can rent gear and book tours through Tumalo Creek.

How to Get There: The best way to get to the Upper Deschutes River is to drive. If you are driving, take I-84 E and take exit 14 for Fairview Parkway. Continue on Jackson Trail Rd. to the river.

Fort Stevens State Park

Fort Stevens State Park is home to two hidden gems in the Portland area! With beaches, lakes and camping grounds, Fort Stevens State Park has everything you need for an epic outdoor trip!

The park’s main lake, Coffenbury Lake, is known for its unique formation. Coffenbury Lake is a dune lake, meaning that is was formed between two dunes as rainwater filled the basin. Usually, dune lakes only last about 100 years (due to erosion) so kayaking at Coffenbury lake is a real treat! Although small in size, Coffenbury Lake is an excellent place for novice paddlers to explore and you can spot elk right on the shore!

Fort Stevens State Park’s other hidden treasure is Crabapple Lake. Although too much vegetation has made it un-kayakable, this small pond is a hotspot for wildlife. Crabapple Lake is a nice spot to break up a long day of paddling and hopefully see some awesome wildlife! Bonus- Social Security Beach is an awesome fishing spot!

Kayaking around Fort Stevens’ Coffenbury Lake is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The crystal blue waters and insane geological features make this park a must-see. Visitors can launch their own boats at the park. Or, you can rent gear from Wheel Fun Kayak Rentals.

How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Fort Stevens State Park is to drive. If you are driving, take I-405 N and take exit 1D for U.S. 26 W toward Beaverton. Continue on Columbia Beach Rd. to the park.

Deschutes River kayaking is a wonderful place for beginners to interact with nature and practice their paddling skills!
Fall foliage is breathtaking to see while paddling down the Deschutes River. Photo Credit: Robert Shea (Flickr CC)

Cascades Range

Kayaking in Portland doesn’t get much better than the Cascades Range. A series of mountain lakes, the Cascades Range has bodies of water ideal for all types of paddlers.

The North Cascades is the place for outdoor thrill-seekers! Known for its whitewater kayaking, there are tons of outfitters to help you navigate the Class III, IV and V rapids in the North Cascades.

The Cascades Range has other waterways (that are a bit calmer) still with breathtaking mountain views. Many paddlers enjoy kayaking the Skagit River and the Skykomish River alongside Highway 2. Also, the Wenatchee River along the eastern side of the Cascades Range. All of these options offer a unique way to interact with this massive mountain range!

Kayaking around high-elevation lakes is an awesome experience. These, crystal clear lakes and mountain views of central Oregon are unbeatable- especially from the seat of a canoe! You can launch your own boat at these lakes. Or, you can rent gear and book tours through Wanderlust Kayak Tours.

How to Get There: The best way to get to the Cascades Range is to drive. If you are driving, take I-84 E and take exit 44 for US 30 E toward Cascade Locks. Continue on NF-68 to the lake.

From mountain lakes to whitewater rapids, kayaking in Portland is a wonderful way to interact with Oregon’s environment. Now that you are in the mood to kayak, check out our destinations page to see where else your boat can take you! Need some more inspiration before heading outdoors? Check out these motivational outdoors quotes. Happy paddling!

kayaking in Portland is a wonderful way to see the city and its luscious environment.
Canoeing and kayaking in Portland is an awesome way to experience the outdoors. Photo Credit: Aleksey Kuprikuv (Flickr CC)

Additional Resources

What to Pack for Kayaking in Portland

  • Swimsuit: Wearing a swimsuit is essential for being out on the water! When canoeing and kayaking, chances are you are going to get wet, so best to be prepared! Click here to compare styles and prices for our favorite swimsuits.
  • Sunglasses: Being out on the water is beautiful, but the water can really reflect light! Make sure to bring a pair of sunglasses and croakies to keep them from falling off.
  • Hat: It’s best to keep the sun of your head to keep you cool. Whether you prefer a nice bucket hat or a vintage baseball cap, keeping cool will ensure an awesome trip.
  • Water Bottle: Keeping hydrated is no joke! Paddling is a great way to exercise and relax, but that means it takes a lot of energy too! Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your trip with these cool water bottles.
  • Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Don’t let the elements stop you from having an amazing paddle! I recommend bringing sunscreen and bug spray in the boat with ou to ward off any pests and sunburns.

For a more complete packing list, check out our ultimate kayaking packing list to help you prepare for all of your outdoor kayak adventures. These essentials will make your time kayaking and canoeing in San Diego an unforgettable experience!

Related Links to Kayaking in Portland

While New York City is often known for its food, shopping, and entertainment, one of our favorite ways to get to know the city is through its varied outdoor spaces. With over 28,000 acres of green spaces, New York City has no shortage of outdoor adventures, from water sports to rock climbing. We’ve compiled this list of the best outdoor activities in NYC so you can plan an adventure outside without having to leave the city!

Photo Credit: Lucas Schlagenhauf (Flickr CC)

New York Outdoor Adventures: Best Outdoor Activities in NYC

Go on a themed walking tour of the city

Whether you’re visiting New York or have lived there your whole life, free walking tours are a fun way to get outdoors and learn fun facts about this vibrant city.

There are tons tour companies that offer walking tours around different parts of the city. Free Tours by Foot offers over a dozen different guided walking tours of different parts of the city. Some of these tours include Downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn Bridge & DUMBO, Harlem, and holiday themed tours. Village Alliance also offers several comprehensive themed self-guided walking tours for visitors to Greenwich Village. If you’re looking for more of a natural spin in your walking tour, the Central Park Conservancy offers free guided walking tours of some of the most important conservation areas in the park.

Here’s how it works: Typically, these tours last anywhere from 3-6 hours, and instead of paying for the tour, you tip the guide what you felt it was worth at the end of the experience. We usually tip $10-20 per person, depending on the length of the tour and the quality of the guide.

Walk the High Line

Although it’s a popular tourist attraction, one of our favorite outdoor activities in NYC is walking the High Line. This historic railroad line, originally built as the West Side Elevated Line in 1933, served as a freight line to the many factories and industrial centers in Chelsea. After it was considered for demolition in the early 200s, it was converted to an urban walking path and art exhibit area in 2009, and since then has served as a beloved green space to go hiking in New York City.

Today, the High Line’s 1.5 miles of trail are open free of charge to visitors and locals, and hosts several design and art projects throughout the year. The High Line also boasts beautiful views of Chelsea’s renovated factories and industrial spaces.

Pro tip: If you’re visiting New York City by MegaBus, this is a great place to visit near the departure terminal. Drop your baggage off at Schwartz Luggage Storage on 9th Ave and 37th Street and head to the High Line. While you’re there, you can also climb the Vessel (see below) as well.

Climb Vessel in Hudson Yards

If you’re looking for a stair workout at one of the strangest and most unique structures in New York, take an afternoon to climb around Vessel in Hudson Yards. Designed by famed British designer Thomas Heatherwick, this iconic landmark is composed of 154 flights of stairs, which breaks down to over a mile of walking that includes 80 platforms and over 2,500 individual steps. From the top, you can catch some really scenic views of the surrounding neighborhoods, the waterfront, and the city skyline.

To climb Vessel, you’ll need to reserve a free timed entry ticket in advance. You can reserve same-day tickets on site starting at 9:30 AM ET, or you can book tickets online.

Find the oldest tree in New York City

For those looking to escape the main tourist drags of Manhattan, head to Alley Park Pond in Queens for a unique scavenger hunt of sorts. Between the throngs of cheerful families and joggers along the park’s hiking trails, you can find the tallest and oldest tree in New York City – affectionately known as the Queens Giant.

Standing at 134 feet tall, the Queens Giant is a towering tulip tree that experts believe is close to 400 years old. Today, it’s a protected landmark in Alley Pond Park that’s a fun stop when paired with a longer walk through the park. It’s also a great excuse to explore Queens’ green spaces by foot – one of the lesser known outdoor activities in NYC.

New York City Statue of Liberty with boat in Manhattan over Hudson River

Ride a jet ski to the Statue of Liberty

During the summer and early fall, the weather is perfect for getting out on the water and seeing the city from a new perspective. In our opinion, one of the coolest outdoor sightseeing adventures offered in New York City is jet skiing to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and other iconic attractions on the water. Get your heart pumping as you jet around from sight to sight, catching breathtaking views of the New York skyline from the water as you go.

There are several outfitters who offer jet ski sightseeing tours, but one of the best-rated and most beloved is Sea the City. Their classic jet ski tour, the New York Harbor Tour, starts at $159 for a 1-hour experience, and you can have 1 or 2 riders on the jet ski at a time.

Photo Credit: Tom’s Playground (Flickr CC)

Go for a sunrise jog on a waterfront path

With its massive population, there aren’t many places you can go in New York without crowds. However, if you can get up early, taking a sunrise walk or jog on one of the city’s waterfront pathways is a great way to avoid the crowds and get some fresh air to start your day. The Hudson River Greenway is one of the most popular spots to run, walk, and ride in New York City, and it’s much less crowded in the sunrise hours than later in the day, when large crowds make this trail a bit more difficult to navigate.

Additionally, the Hudson River Greenway connects to several other trails in a large trail network that spans all the way to Saratoga County. If you’re a biker or simply want to explore more than just the main stretches of the Hudson River Greenway, consider checking out one of the other greenway trails in New York City.

Try your hand at outdoor bouldering

There are plenty of indoor climbing gyms in New York, but if you look hard enough, you can also find a few interesting places for outdoor climbing in the city.

One beloved bouldering gym is The Cliffs Climbing, which offers several outdoor routes at its DUMBO location. Located at Brooklyn Bridge Park, they merge an indoor climbing experience with an outdoor atmosphere, which is a breath of fresh air from the traditional urban climbing experience. Climbing outdoors is one of the coolest outdoor activities in NYC, and we’d recommend trying it out for a good workout and an adrenaline fix.

For actual bouldering in NYC, you can also pick up a copy of Bouldering in NYC by Gaz Leah, which offers several suggestions for bouldering problems you can try in Central Park and beyond. If you want to attempt this, go with a trusted, experienced friend and don’t forget to bring your own crash pad!

Go surfing at the Rockaways

Did you know you can surf in New York City and its immediate surroundings? Yup, you can actually catch the waves in the Rockaways in Queens! Surf enthusiasts love this spot for riding the waves in the early mornings of summer, and there are actually a few surf shops near the Rockaways area that offer rentals and surf lessons.

Boarders Surf Shop offers half- and full-day board and westuit rentals at reasonable prices, and can set you up with group or private lessons if you’re hoping to learn. All lessons include board and wetsuit rentals as well!

Learn to stand up paddle board

Stand up paddle boarding is one of the hottest trends in water sports, and you can learn how to do it right here in New York! Paddling the city’s waterways is one of the best outdoor activities in NYC, and is a great way to get some fresh air and a solid workout while experiencing some absolutely beautiful city views.

For the most iconic Hudson River views, rent a stand up paddle board or book a guided lesson/tour with Manhattan Kayak. They’ve got lessons for all experience levels, from absolute beginners to intermediate level. During the warmer months, they organized guided tours and excursions for beginners through advanced level paddlers, perfect for experiencing some of the hidden gems the Hudson River has to offer.

Read more: 7 Awesome Places to Go Stand Up Paddle Boarding in NYC

Catch sunset in Central Park

This one’s pretty simple and self-explanatory, but experiencing a beautiful, golden sunset from one of the most famous green spaces in the world is definitely an experience worth having. We’d recommend getting to Central Park about 90 minutes before sunset so you can find the perfect spot to sit down and enjoy a peaceful evening in the park. (If you need some suggestions, here are a few.) As the sky turns orange and pink, you’ll find wonderful opportunities for people watching, photography, and meditation as you take in the sights and sounds of the city.

Run an iconic New York City road race

New York City is a metropolis of runners, and there are plenty of opportunities to show off your skills in road races that run past some of the city’s most famous sights. The most iconic road race in New York City is the TCS New York City Marathon, which takes place in early November every year. The lottery for the race is tough, with the chance of getting an entry less than 20%.

If you’re not a marathoner or half marathoner, there are hundreds of road races in NYC year-round that you can participate in. Some of the coolest shorter road races in NYC include the New Year’s Eve Midnight Run in Central Park, the Jingle Bell Jog, the 5th Avenue Mile, and the Abbott Dash to the Finish 5K.

Kayak the Hudson River to catch incredible skyline views

With over 500 acres of park land, Hudson River Park offers a range of canoeing and kayaking experiences, from free to guided tours (recommended if you are a new paddler). If you are looking to fill an open afternoon, Hudson River Park will not disappoint; kayaking the NYC shoreline is sure to be an exhilarating time.

If you are nervous about paddling on higher-speed waters, Manhattan Kayak offers guided tours from Pier 84 ranging from three to 30 miles, depending on how far you want to adventure, as well as rentals by the hour or day. With views of the Statue of Liberty from downtown and the Empire State Building from Midtown, you’ll want to adventure far.

Manhattan Kayak operates from Pier 84, Downtown Boathouse from Pier 26, and Manhattan Community Boathouse from Pier 96.

Read more: 15 Stunning Places to Go Canoeing and Kayaking in NYC

Rent a Citi bike and explore the city on wheels

In our opinion, one of the best things about exploring a city is the uptick in bike sharing companies that have infiltrated the sidewalks. New York City’s bike sharing platform is called Citi Bike, and it’s a wonderful way to rent a bike for a day and explore the city on wheels. There are terminals all over the city, and you can simply pick up a bike from one terminal and drop it off at another as you move from place to place around the city.

If you want to spend a day biking through New York, we’d recommend starting out early so you can ensure bikes will be available (they’re often in high demand during rush hour and weekends, so try to avoid these times if possible!).

Tackle a challenging hiking trail outside the city

New York City might seem like all skyscrapers and concrete from afar, but if you look closely, it’s also a city surrounded by tranquil green spaces with fantastic access to hiking trails. Case in point: there’s a fantastic variety of hikes near NYC that you can get to easily on public transportation! While there are several hiking trails in the city, you can also hop on many of the MTA lines to get to more challenging or technical hikes in the mountains upstate. We’d recommend Breakneck Ridge, which is a local favorite that offers a good challenge and an even more rewarding view.

Read more: 18 Beautiful Hikes in and Around NYC (That You Can Reach on Public Transit!)


Do you have a favorite outdoor activity in NYC that’s not on this list? Leave us a comment and let us know!

While Breckenridge is arguably most famous for its snow sports and winter activities, there are tons of amazing hikes you can do in the area in the spring, summer, and fall. The gorgeous mountain views combined with miles of evergreen forests makes for a network of super picturesque hiking trails, perfect for all levels of experience. If you’re hoping to go hiking in Breckenridge, there are tons of options to choose from. We’ve created this guide with our favorite hikes in Breckenridge to help you plan your outdoor adventures in the area!

Easy Hikes in Breckenridge

Hoosier Pass Loop

  • Trail Length: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 688 feet

For beautiful mountain views on an easy to moderate trail, Hoosier Pass Loop is one of the best hikes in Breckenridge. Featuring a 2.8-mile gravel trail that spans a rocky summit above the tree line, this hike crosses the Continental Divide and is fantastic for all levels of hikers. We went at sunset (pictured above) and it was breathtaking to watch the last golden rays of sun illuminate the nearby peaks.

Note that there is a gradual incline through the first half of the trail, so good shoes are a must. However, once you hit the pass, stunning views and an easy descent await.

How to get there: Take Highway 9 from Breckenridge south, and the trailhead is located on the right hand side ~10 miles outside of town.

Burro Trail

  • Trail Length: 6.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 918 feet

Known as one of the area’s most popular trails, the Burro Trail is one of the must-do hikes in Breckenridge. With a leisurely 6.1-mile out-and-back trail that winds through forests, along creeks and waterfalls, and between rocky areas, it’s a laid back area that’s great for a walk with your dog or a group hike. While the trail itself does not have any major viewpoints, it connects to other trails near Peak 7 that do offer views of the town and surrounding mountains.

As this trail is one of the most accessible and popular areas for hiking in Breckenridge, it does get quite crowded on weekends and later in the day. We’d recommend heading out early in the morning and/or on weekdays for the most secluded experience.

How to get there: Park near the Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center and walk to the trail head (~5 minute walk).

Sawmill Reservoir

  • Trail Length: 1.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 236 feet

If you’re looking for a short, easy, and scenic hike, Sawmill Reservoir is a great option. The trail starts by running through the forest, then loops around the scenic Sawmill Reservoir, where you can see lots of fishing enthusiasts casting their lines around the glassy waterfront. While there are typically people wandering around the lake, it wasn’t too crowded when we hiked here in the late afternoon, just as the sun started to hang low over the horizon.

This trail is fairly flat, with a few easy inclines to reach the reservoir. We’d recommend bringing bug repellent, as it can get decently buggy in the forest and near the water.

How to get there: Take S Park Ave southbound (Highway 9) to Four O’Clock Road. Turn right onto Four O’Clock Road and the trail head will be on your left.

Gold Run Gulch Loop

  • Trail Length: 2.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 334 feet

Gold Run Gulch Loop is a wonderful, easy spot for hiking in Breckenridge that’s a little bit different than the others on our list. Instead of featuring sweeping mountain vistas and fields of wildflowers, Gold Run Gulch Loop is a stroll through the forest that takes hikers to a few historic sites and cabin ruins in the area. Along the way, you can see still-standing log structures from several decades ago.

How to get there: From Hwy 9 northbound, take a right onto Tiger Road. Then, take another right onto Highlands Road then a left onto Fairways Road. Finally, take a right onto Gold Run Road and the trailhead is located at the end of the street.

Boreas Pass

  • Trail Length: 2.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 396 feet

For an easy, short hike that offers beautiful views of the town center and the ski slopes, Boreas Pass is one of the most accessible hikes in Breckenridge for all levels of experience. We especially recommend this hike for beginners and solo hikers, as there is a) cell service throughout most of the hike and b) about half of the trail is a shared dirt road with bikes and cars, meaning you’ll never be quite away from civilization. However, the views from the higher points of the hike are absolutely stunning.

We felt a little disappointed that this hike was largely located on a road, but nonetheless, there were a few gems we really enjoyed. First, the views are exceptional. Second, the trail is mostly shaded and very well maintained. Lastly, there are a few rocky outcroppings you can climb for extra views. Check out our full guide to the Boreas Pass hike here.

How to get there: The trailhead of this hike is located on Boreas Pass Road.

Lily Pad Lake

  • Trail Length: 3.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 396 feet

Imagine the image that comes to view when you hear Lily Pad Lake, and this trail probably fits that description very closely. This short, easy trail brings hikers through the forest to a beautiful alpine lake that’s usually filled with lily pads and flowers during the warmer months of the year. There’s a somewhat steep incline at the very beginning of the trail that flattens out toward the lake, but it’s still very accessible for hikers of all levels.

The parking is extremely limited, so we’d recommend either getting there very early or late in the day, or planning to find alternative transportation arrangements.

How to get there: Take highway 6 toward Silverthorne, exit onto Stephens Way, then turn left on Wildernest Rd and left again onto Ryan Gulch Road. Follow Ryan Gulch Road all the way to the trail head.

Sally Barber Mine Trail

  • Trail Length: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 393 feet

Another one of the most popular hikes in Breckenridge for history lovers is the Sally Barber Mine Trail. Similar to the Gold Run Gulch Loop, this hike features a few historic mine structures that you can view and explore. With a moderate elevation gain and an easy, wide trail, the Sally Barber Mine Trail is great for families and beginners, or hikers of any experience level who enjoy discovering historic areas on their adventures.

How to get there: Take Wellington Rd in Breckenridge east to Hwy 2/French Gulch Road. After ~3 miles, the Sally Barber Mine Trailhead will be on your right.

Blue Lakes Trail

  • Trail Length: 1 mile
  • Elevation Gain: 108 feet

For a short, easy hike around a scenic alpine lake, the Blue Lakes Trail is a local favorite. At just one mile, this trail is perfect for those acclimatizing to the altitude or who want a quick, leisurely hike with great views. It’s also a great spot for dogs and families. At the lake, you can often spot white mountain goats meandering along the lakeside, and during the summer, you’ll see excellent views of the surrounding mountains with wildflowers and forests nearby.

Note that visitors say that the trailhead can sometimes be hard to access without a 4WD vehicle.

How to get there: Take Hwy 9 southbound, then take a left onto Blue Lakes Road. The trail head is at the end of Blue Lakes Road and is shared with Monte Cristo Gulch.

Photo Credit: Brendan Bombaci (Flickr CC)

Moderate Hikes in Breckenridge

Lower Mohawk Lake

  • Trail Length: 5.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,486 feet

As one of the most scenic and popular trails for hiking in Breckenridge, Lower Mohawk Lake is a fantastic half-day adventure for all levels of hikers. While the trail is rated as moderate, the incline in steady and gradual throughout, making this a very accessible hike for beginners and more experienced folks. Along the way, you’ll find beautiful wildflowers and views of the snow-capped mountains nearby.

This trail actually passes by 3 main attractions – Mayflower, Continental Falls, and Lower Mohawk Lake. There’s a longer and more challenging version of this hike that’s more suited for experienced hikers, as well.

How to get there: Take Hwy 9 southbound and turn right onto Spruce Creek Road (where the Grand Moose Lodge is located). Follow Spruce Creek Road to the end where the trailhead is located.

Mt. Baldy Trail

  • Trail Length: 10.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,123 feet

As one of the most beloved hiking trails in Breckenridge, Mt. Baldy offers stunning views of the nearby mountains and pine forests. Since it is a longer hiking option with a gradual incline, Mt. Baldy is a great option for those looking for a half- to full-day adventure. Most of the trail is above the tree line, offering panoramic vistas across the valley and the surrounding peaks.

Note that the end of the trail has been closed since July 2020 as it was claimed as private property. However, users report that it’s not well marked where the closed areas begin.

How to get there: Head to Mt. Baldy Road and continue past Gold Point Resort. You’ll find the trail head on your left.

Photo Credit: Jilly Anna Joy (Flickr CC)

Black Powder Pass Summit

  • Trail Length: 3.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

For a shorter hike that will have you working up a sweat, the Black Powder Pass Summit trail is a fantastic moderate option for hikers of all levels. The trail is largely above the tree line, meaning you’ll see stunning, unobstructed views of the alpine meadows, blossoming wildflowers, and surrounding peaks. There are also several opportunities to view local wildlife, like the mountain goats that graze these high elevation meadows.

How to get there: Head to Boreas Pass Road, which will take you all the way to the trailhead. Note that this road is quite narrow and is made of gravel, so it can take around 40 minutes from the center of Breckenridge to arrive.

Lower Crystal Lake

  • Trail Length: 4.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,601 feet

Hiking up to a scenic lake is possible in many parts of the Breckenridge area, and Lower Crystal Lake is a fantastic option for hikers looking for a good workout without going too long or far on the trails. The Lower Crystal Lake trail is fairly steep on the ascent, so we’d characterize this one as a moderate to difficult-level hike. At the top, you’ll see stunning mountain views along a quiet alpine lake, with tons of wildflowers coloring the landscape.

How to get there: Take Hwy 9 southbound and turn right onto Spruce Creek Road (where the Grand Moose Lodge is located). Follow Spruce Creek Road to the trailhead at the end of the street.

Difficult Hikes in Breckenridge

Quandary Peak

  • Trail Length: 7.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,100 feet

If you’re looking to bag a Colorado 14er peak, the closest one to Breckenridge is called Quandary Peak. This challenging summit hike will take you to a whopping 14,265 feet of altitude, with 3,100 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead to the summit. The hike begins with a moderate incline through a forested area, then poses a much steeper and rockier ascent once you’ve passed the tree line. However, if you’re up for the challenge, the views of the surrounding mountains from the summit are absolutely breathtaking.

While not for the faint of heart, this peak is accessible to experienced hikers who are willing to scramble a little bit and traverse over 2 miles of steep rocky scree paths each way. We’d strongly recommend starting the hike before 7 AM to get the best views from the summit with the least crowded trails. Also, sturdy trekking poles are super helpful for the descent, as the trail can get quite slippery when going downhill from the summit. Click here to read our full guide to the Quandary Peak hike.

How to get there: Take Hwy 9 southbound for ~8.5 miles, then turn right onto McCullough Gulch Rd. The trailhead is located on the left hand side of the street. If the trailhead parking lot is full, you may need to drive on nearby streets to find available street parking.

Crystal Lake

  • Trail Length: 8.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,568 feet

One of the most beautiful alpine lake hikes in Breckenridge is the trail to Crystal Lake. From the top, you can see views of Lower Crystal Lake and the surrounding meadows and mountains. Once you get above the tree line, the trail flattens out into a more gradual incline until the end. Note that this trail is very popular with hikers and off-road vehicles, so going early in the morning will minimize heavy crowds.

How to get there: Take Hwy 9 southbound and turn right onto Spruce Creek Road (where the Grand Moose Lodge is located). Follow Spruce Creek Road to the end where the trailhead is located.

McCullough Gulch Trail

  • Trail Length: 6.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,578 feet

For a trail that has just about everything, from waterfalls to scenic meadows, McCullough Gulch is a gorgeous and popular spot for hiking in Breckenridge. This 6.2-mile trail packs a punch with several waterfalls, alpine lakes, peaceful forest areas, and stunning mountain views. Don’t forget to bring a camera! The trails are steep and difficult, but doable for most hikers who are open to a challenge and have some hiking experience under their belts.

How to get there: Take Hwy 9 southbound for ~8.5 miles, then turn right onto McCullough Gulch Rd and follow it to the trail head.

Photo Credit: Thomas Elliott (Flickr CC)

Monte Cristo Gulch Trail

  • Trail Length: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,138 feet

If you’re looking for a challenging hike that isn’t too long, Monte Cristo Gulch is one of the most scenic and difficult hikes in Breckenridge. Over less than 3 miles, you’ll gain well over 1,000 feet of elevation that ends at a scenic alpine lake filled with wildflowers and mountain goats. A good chunk of this trail involves rock scrambling, so come prepared with trusty trekking poles and a willingness to use your hands!

How to get there: Take Hwy 9 southbound, then take a left onto Blue Lakes Road. The trail head is at the end of Blue Lakes Road and is shared with the Blue Lakes Trail.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Breckenridge

What to Pack

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Related Articles

Grand Teton National Park is one of the most scenic and widely photographed national parks in the United States, and for good reason – the landscapes here are strikingly beautiful. While many people choose to drive through and observe its natural beauty along the roadways, the absolute best way to experience these jagged peaks and placid lakes is by hiking in Grand Teton National Park. To help you make the most of your time in the park, we’ve created this list of the best hikes in Grand Teton that are suitable for all levels of adventurers!

Easy Hiking in Grand Teton National Park

Leigh Lake

  • Trail Length: 7 miles (out-and-back)
  • Elevation Gain: 110 feet

For a quieter, more peaceful trail than some of the other lake hikes in Grand Teton National Park, Leigh Lake is a wonderful and family-friendly option. Situated north of Jenny Lake and String Lake, Leigh Lake boasts stunning views of the Tetons across a serene lakeside, with dirt paths winding through pine forests and root-laced shorelines.

Elevation gain on this trail is minimal, making it ideal for beginner hikers or families wanting an easy and scenic spot to take a walk. This trail is out-and-back, so you can shorten this hike based on your time and distance preferences. Alternatively, you can combine the Leigh Lake Trail with the String Lake Loop (see below) for a longer adventure.

How to get there: Head to the North Side of Jenny Lake parking area, and park in the section closest to the String Lake trail head. From there, follow signs to Leigh Lake trail head and begin your hike there.

String Lake Loop

  • Trail Length: 3.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 262 feet

As a sister lake to both Jenny Lake and Leigh Lake, String Lake is a small, scenic waterway that’s popular with both hikers and paddlers. For hikers, there’s a loop trail around the shore of the lake that’s one of the best easy hikes in Grand Teton for all levels of hikers. Along the lake, you’ll find dirt trails that wind through wooded areas, offering stunning views of the Tetons reflecting off the mountains.

As the trail runs mostly through the forest, it’s a great hike to do when the sun is high in the sky. If you’re looking for a longer adventure, combine this trail with Leigh Lake or Jenny Lake to get a variety of views of the iconic Teton ridge.

How to get there: Head to the North Side of Jenny Lake parking area, and park in the section closest to the String Lake trail head.

Flagg Canyon

  • Trail Length: 5.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 324 feet

For a scenic walk along the Snake River, the Flagg Canyon trail on the north side of the park is a great place for hiking in Grand Teton. Featuring a pretty waterfall and lots of riverfront and forest views, this leisurely pathway is a great adventure through the north side of Grand Teton. Wildflowers, pine trees, and wildlife viewing opportunities will greet you on these dirt pathways.

If you’re staying at Flagg Ranch Campground, it’s a nearby trail that’s conveniently accessed without a car. Note that because this trail is close to the river, you should make sure to use bug spray and opt for long sleeves/pants, as the mosquitoes here can get vicious during the summertime.

How to get there: The trail head is located just south of the entrance to Flagg Ranch off of Hwy 89. You’ll need to cross under a bridge to access the rest of the trail.

Photo Credit: Bryant Olsen (Flickr CC)

Two Ocean Lake

  • Trail Length: 6.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 462 feet

For a lesser-known lake trail that boasts beautiful views of the Tetons, Two Ocean Lake is a wonderful option for hiking in Grand Teton. This flat, easy trail spans 6.1 miles along the perimeter of the lake, offering spectacular views of the mountains as well as the surrounding forests, especially early in the day when the water is still and mirror-like.

The area is also known for abundant wildlife, including bears (so enjoy, but don’t forget to remain alert and keep bear spray with you at all times).

How to get there: Turn onto Pacific Creek Road from Hwy 89, then turn left onto Two Ocean Lake Road. Then, follow the road to the end where you can park and begin the hike.

Photo Credit: Tim Lumley (Flickr CC)

Taggart Lake Loop

  • Trail Length: 4.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 429 feet

Taggart Lake, located south of Jenny Lake, is a scenic lake located at the foot of the Tetons. For morning hikes with a view, there are few hikes we’d recommend more than Taggart Lake. It’s a perfect place for beginners to go hiking in Grand Teton, with a 4.1 mile loop that winds through the forest to reach the lakeside. At the lake itself, you can enjoy glassy reflections of the mountains on the teal blue lake, especially early in the morning when the water is still.

Note that the parking lot for Taggart Lake is quite small and can get crowded, so we’d recommend getting there early in the morning for the best views and the smallest crowds. Additionally, this hike can be combined with a hike to Bradley Lake for a longer, more challenging adventure.

How to get there: From Highway 89 near the Moose entrance, look for signs that say “Taggart Lake” on the side of the road closest to the mountains.

Colter Bay Lakeshore Trail

  • Trail Length: 2.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

Colter Bay is a campground, lodge, and scenic lake all in one, and one of our favorite ways to enjoy it is by hiking one of the main trails in the area. For hikers that want a shorter adventure, the Colter Bay Lakeshore Trail is a fantastic option that’s suitable for all levels. This popular trail boasts 2.5 miles of beautiful lakeside and mountain views spanning a small peninsula lined with pine trees that juts out into the water.

Unlike many of the hikes on our list, this trail is paved, so it’s suitable for families with strollers or wheelchairs. It’s also easily accessed from the Colter Bay parking lot, where there is plenty of space throughout the day for visitors to park.

How to get there: Enter the Colter Bay Village area and park near the Colter Bay Amphitheater.

Photo Credit: Anne (Flickr CC)

Colter Bay Hermitage Point

  • Trail Length: 9.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 738 feet

For a longer, more involved hike near Colter Bay, Hermitage Point is a fantastic spot for hiking in Grand Teton. This trail starts at Colter Bay Village and brings hikers along forested dirt paths along the lakefront, down south to a quiet wooded peninsula where you can catch incredible, breathtaking views of the mountains across the lake. You can combine this with the Lakeshore Trail for an extra-long adventure, as the two trails do not overlap.

As this hike is on the long side, we’d strongly recommend bringing and reapplying bug spray often, as the mosquitos can get very aggressive, especially in the summer. We’d also strongly recommend bringing bear spray, as there have been several bear sightings along the trail.

Phelps Lake

  • Trail Length: 7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 725 feet

If you’re looking for a lake that has views of the iconic Teton mountain range, but is a little less crowded, Phelps Lake is one of the best Grand Teton hikes for all levels. At 7 miles, it’s definitely one of the longer easy hikes on our list, but is much less crowded than nearby Jenny Lake and boasts beautiful (but different) views.

This loop trail runs around the perimeter of Phelps Lake, through mostly shaded and wooded areas. It’s suitable for hikers of all skill levels, and is a good option for a hike later in the day as direct sun exposure is minimal.

How to get there: From Moose-Wilson Road, turn off at the Phelps Lake trailhead entrance and park at the end of the road.

Schwabacher’s Landing

  • Trail Length: 1.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

Quite possibly the most scenic and famous spot in Grand Teton National Park for photographers is Schwabacher’s Landing. Located on a small, slow-moving creek, this trail boasts jaw-dropping views of the iconic Grand Teton peaks reflecting off the water. While many people simply park and enjoy the views nearby, there’s a 1.8-mile trail that accompanies this viewpoint, where you can catch lots of different perspectives of the mountains amidst the dense evergreen forests.

For excellent lighting and views with few people, sunrise is the best time to head to Schwabacher Landing. You’ll have the opportunity to see the mountains glow orange and gold in the morning sun, their snowy peaks reflecting off the water from the creek. If you go later in the day, the afternoon haze may make the mountain views a little more foggy.

How to get there: Turn onto Schwabacher Road from Hwy 26-89 and continue all of the way down the gravel road to the trail head.

Moderate Hikes in Grand Teton National Park

Hidden Falls & Inspiration Point

  • Trail Length: 2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 410 feet

As one of the most popular hikes in Grand Teton National Park, you won’t likely find solitude and tranquility on the Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point trail. However, you will find an accessible moderate hike (just under 2 miles) that has a variety of landmarks, including waterfalls, forests, and a sweeping viewpoint of Jenny Lake.

For families wanting a bit of an extra challenge, this moderate short hike is a popular and scenic option. However, our personal opinion is that the Inspiration Point viewpoint was a little underwhelming, and that this hike is best paired with a continuation into Cascade Canyon (see below).

For the least crowded trails, take the first Jenny Lake boat shuttle at 7 AM (leaves from a boat dock near Jenny Lake visitor center, $18 ticket round trip). If you want to extend your hike beyond the 2 miles of this trail, you can buy a one-way ticket across the lake and then hike the Jenny Lake trail back to the parking lot.

How to get there: Enter the Jenny Lake South area, drive past the visitor center, and park by the entrance to the Jenny Lake Trail. From there, you can walk to the boat shuttle dock and purchase your ticket for Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls.

Jenny Lake

  • Trail Length: 7.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 728 feet

Jenny Lake is one of the most iconic and highly-trafficked areas of Grand Teton National Park. For those wanting to avoid large crowds, this trail probably isn’t for you. However, if you go early in the day and hike counter-clockwise, you can enjoy this gorgeous lake trail with much fewer crowds. As one of the most popular places for hiking in Grand Teton National Park, we’d recommend arriving before 8 AM.

Once you’re at the trail head, you have a few options: you can hike the full 7.7-mile trail, or you can take the Jenny Lake boat shuttle across the lake and walk back. Shuttle fares are $10 one way or $18 round trip.

How to get there: Enter the Jenny Lake South area, drive past the visitor center, and park by the entrance to the Jenny Lake Trail.

Cascade Canyon

  • Trail Length: 9.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,128 feet

One of our top picks for hikes in Grand Teton is Cascade Canyon, a moderate trail through one of the major canyon areas in Grand Teton National Park. This trail passes by Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, so it’s a fantastic day hike to pair with a trip to Jenny Lake. Along this 9.7-mile trail, you’ll see gorgeous mountain and glacier views. The beginning of the trail is a pretty steep uphill, but the rest has rolling hills across a gravel/rocky path.

A nice aspect of the Cascade Canyon trail is that it’s out-and-back, so you can make your adventure as long or as short as you’d like to go. In our opinion, it’s worth hiking up at least a little bit past Inspiration Point to enjoy some of the striking views of Cascade Canyon.

How to get there: Enter the Jenny Lake South area, drive past the visitor center, and park by the entrance to the Jenny Lake Trail. From there, you can walk to the boat shuttle dock and purchase your ticket to the trail head for Inspiration Point and Cascade Canyon.

Taggart Lake to Bradley Lake Loop

  • Trail Length: 6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 761 feet

If you’re looking for a moderately challenging and stunningly beautiful hike, Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake Loop is an excellent option. With serene alpine lakes and views of the majestic Tetons in the distance, this trail is perfect for hikers of all levels looking for a bit of a challenge with magnificent rewards. If you go early enough, you can catch some breathtaking reflections of the mountains in the still waters of the lakes before the mid-day wind picks up.

As we mentioned in the Taggart Lake section, parking is limited in this part of the park, so we’d recommend beginning this hike before 8 AM. Plus, the light in the morning against the mountains is an incredible sight to see.

How to get there: From Highway 89 near the Moose entrance, look for signs that say “Taggart Lake” on the side of the road closest to the mountains.

Signal Mountain

  • Trail Length: 8.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,184 feet

Signal Mountain is a mountaintop that overlooks Jackson Lakes and the iconic, snow-capped Teton range. A popular spot for watching sunrise and sunset, the 8.3-mile Signal Mountain trail is a fun hike to a pretty viewpoint.

The catch? This trail ends at the summit of Signal Mountain…which people can also drive to. So, if you’re looking for a remote wilderness hike with epic, exclusive views, this hike probably isn’t the best one of you. However, if you’re wanting a moderately challenging hike to one of the park’s most stunning viewpoints, we’d say to go for it!

How to get there: Park near the Signal Mountain lodge, then take the trail that begins on Signal Mountain Marina Road.

Aspen Ridge Loop

  • Trail Length: 5.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 780 feet

For a forested trail that’s off the beaten path, Aspen Ridge is a wonderful spot for hiking in Grand Teton National Park. This 5.7-mile loop trail winds through the forest, passing by scenic alpine lakes, beautiful viewpoints, and tons of wildlife viewing areas. This is one of the lesser-known hikes in Grand Teton, so you can expect much smaller and more sparse crowds, even during the popular summer season.

How to get there: Park at the trailhead for Phelps Lake, then follow signs for Aspen Ridge.

Photo Credit: Al_HikesAZ (Flickr CC)

Difficult Hikes in Grand Teton National Park

Lake Solitude

  • Trail Length: 16 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,637 feet

Lake Solitude is one of the most popular challenging hikes in Grand Teton, but the stunning views along the trail are absolutely worth the effort. You’ll pass through Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, and Cascade Canyon, ending at Lake Solitude and giving you a quadruple-whammy of hikes all in one! Hikers rave that the Lake Solitude trail is perhaps the most beautiful and scenic hike in all of Grand Teton…but you’ll have to do the hike to decide for yourself.

At 16 miles of trail (out and back), this is not a hike for beginners or those looking for a short adventure. Most people clock in between 7.5 and 9 hours from beginning to end for Lake Solitude, so you’ll need a full day to complete the hike. However, if you’re willing to put in the work and exercise, the views are some of the most picturesque and outstanding in the entire park.

How to get there: Begin at Jenny Lake South, where you can take the boat shuttle to the trail head. Alternatively, you can park at Jenny Lake North/String Lake and walk to the trail head via the Jenny Lake trail.

Photo Credit: oliver.dodd (Flickr CC)

Delta and Amphitheater Lakes

  • Trail Length: 9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,329 feet

Of all of the challenging hikes in Grand Teton, Delta Lake is one of the most beautiful (and popular). This strenuous trail traverses forests, switchbacks, and some stunning viewpoints. Delta Lake itself is one of the most picturesque spots in the the entire Grand Teton park area.

It’s best to do this hike in the early morning to ensure you can find a parking space. The sun can get very hot and direct, especially in the non-shaded areas, so be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and bug spray for your hike.

How to get there: Park at the trail head for Lupine Meadows, then begin the hike there. We’d recommend using AllTrails to ensure you’re on the right path for Delta Lake, otherwise, it can be very difficult to find.

Garnet Canyon to Lower Saddle

  • Trail Length: 12.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 5,321 feet

Scramblers and climbers, rejoice! The Garnet Canyon to Lower Saddle hike is popular for its technical aspects, namely scree fields, scrambling/bouldering, and even opportunities for traditional rock climbing. As this is the path that most people who climb Grand Teton take to get to the base, it offers stunning views of the iconic mountains surrounding the namesake peak.

This hike is not for the faint of heart, as many folks will name this one as one of the most difficult spots for hiking in Grand Teton. Come prepared with crampons and bear spray, as ice/snow and wildlife are both significant threats on this trail.

How to get there: Begin the trail on the Lupine Meadows Access trail head area.

Photo Credit: Florin Chelaru (Flickr CC)

Static Peak

  • Trail Length: 16.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 5,423 feet

Static Peak is a beloved trail in Grand Teton for experienced hikers and those looking to bag a gorgeous peak in the park. Many hikers refer to it as a hidden favorite, as its difficulty and length make this summit accessible only to experienced folks looking for a challenge. Along the way, you’ll find steep ascents and plenty of switchbacks, with a rocky peak that’s a gorgeous spot for photos or a leisurely summit snack.

At around 17 miles, this is a full day hike that leads you all the way to the peak of Static Mountain. It can also be paired with the Albright Peak for an extra long, strenuous, and rewarding adventure.

How to get there: Turn onto White Grass Trail Head Road (near Phelps Lake), then stay left to arrive at the Static Peak trail head.

Grand Teton Loop

  • Trail Length: 31.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 6,909 feet

For those wanting a multi-day wilderness backpacking experience, Grand Teton Loop is the iconic 31.6-mile backpacking circuit in the park. This trail winds through the area near Jenny Lake, offering unparalleled views of the Grand Teton peak and the mountains nearby. This hike combines some of the best views in the entire park, and shouldn’t be missed if backcountry is your style!

To do this multi-day hike, you’ll need to reserve a wilderness permit in advance or in person at the national park’s office and come equipped with your own backpacking gear. There are designated camping areas that are available to backcountry hikers, so be sure to consult the park rangers for the most up to date information.

How to get there: Begin the trail at the Jenny Lake South trail head, where you can park your car overnight if you are backpacking.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Grand Teton National Park

What to Bring

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Related Articles

While many peoples’ minds immediately jump to eating one of Philadelphia’s delicious cheesesteaks, there is in fact another way to enjoy what this beautiful city has to offer: by kayaking! A day spent kayaking in Philadelphia covers both urban paddling with views of the Philadelphia skyline and waterways that are surrounded by lush trees and forests. Best of all, most of your adventures kayaking in Philadelphia are free of entrance fees (and rentals can be found at very affordable rates).

With so many awesome places to choose from, picking the best places to kayak in and around Philadelphia can be challenging. Below is our complete guide to the most scenic places to kayak in Philadelphia. From quiet creeks to Class II rapids, any outdoor lover must experience paddling around Philadelphia!

Best Places to Go Canoeing and Kayaking In & Around Philadelphia

Kayaking in Philadelphia is an amazing way to explore the city's natural beauty and get outdoors!
Kayaking in Philadelphia is a great way to explore the city’s natural beauty and get outdoors! Photo Credit: David Clow (Flickr CC)

Schuylkill Banks

This 8 mile stretch of river runs straight through the heart of Philidelphia. For an urban kayaking experience that still features beautiful scenery, head out to Schuylkill Banks!

Beginning at Walnut Street Dock, paddlers can launch their boats and cruise down calm waters. Industrial views and the Philadelphia skyline dominate the backdrop when first paddling, but it becomes more lush with greenery as you continue on. Schuylkill Banks’ convenient location and calm waters make it a great spot for beginners or those looking to get in a quick paddle this summer.

Kayaking in Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River truly brings an urban setting outdoors. Bonus- you can kayak in the late-afternoon and get back in time for a free movie screening on Schuylkill Banks (with free snacks)!

You can launch your own boat from Walnut Street Dock or Fairmont Water Works for free. Or, on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, Hidden River Outfitters offers tours of the river with exclusive river routes.

How to Get There: If driving, head towards S 25th St from Lombard st. This will take you to Locust point, where you can park your car and head down to the riverbank. If not driving, the Market Frankford Line of SEPTA Regional Rail will take you here.

Wissahickon Creek

With over 50 miles of rugged terrain trails and free-flowing streams, kayaking in Wissahickon Valley Park is not your average flat water experience.

Located within the park, Wissahickon Creek is 7 miles in total and ranges in depth and rapids. Kayaking here is a complete escape from busy downtown Philadelphia. Dense forests and wildflowers make Wissahickon Creek a beautiful outdoor oasis. While paddling along the rocky tree-lines shores, make sure to look out for shallow areas!

Visitors also enjoy touring historic sites in the park like Philadelphia’s last standing covered bridge and the Valley Green Inn. Between the park’s beautiful natural landscape and history, kayaking Wissahickon Creek is perfect for any age and ability.

The Philadelphia Canoe Club is an active paddling community that offers canoe, kayak, and white water rafting trips down Wissahickon Creek. Besides renting gear, joining this great community of outdoor enthusiasts is a wonderful place to meet others with a shared love for kayaking in Philadelphia.

How to Get There: If driving, start on I-76 W and take exit 331B toward Plymouth Mtg. Then, head toward State Route 3005 until the creek. If not driving, there is transit from 30th Street Station that drops you 0.5 miles from the creek.

Glistening waters of Core Creek Park invites cancers and kayakers for a paddle!
The pond at Core Creek Park is a beautiful place for kayaking in Philadelphia this Summer! Photo Credit: Chris Ronin (Flickr CC)

Cedar Creek

An ecological masterpiece, paddling along Cedar Creek showcases the unique beauty of cedar forests, bogs, marshes and more!

From the minute you arrive you’ll notice how special kayaking on Cedar Creek really is. Its unique tea-colored water is a result of the cedar tree roots of forests that line the shores. Cedar Creek itself is best suited for paddlers with some experience; there is a current that definitely aids you in paddling if going downstream.

Paddling Cedar Creek can be a full weekend trip; luxury campgrounds sit on the shores ready for you after you are done kayaking. Between the cranberry bogs adjacent to the creek and marshes that host diverse wildlife, Cedar Creek must be on your kayaking list this summer.

Cedar Creek Campground rents out campgrounds and canoe/kayak gear. They will even drop it off where you wish to begin your trip! Or, feel free to launch your own boat at the docks near the swimming area.

How to Get There: If driving, start on US-30 E and take the ramp to NJ–70 E. Turn right onto Warren Grove Whiting Rd and continue through Lacey Rd until a right turn onto Atlantic City Blvd. Turn right onto Harbor Inn Rd. Driving is the best way to get here! If you need to rent a car, Avis has you covered.

Kayaking in Philadelphia can have an urban setting ion the Schuylkill Banks- an easy way to get outdoors!
Kayaking along Schuylkill Banks gives the best skyline views and an urban feel. Photo Credit: Montgomery County Planning (Flickr CC)

Marsh Creek State Park

Marsh Creek Lake is your classic flat water lake with beautiful tree-lined coasts and sandy beaches. With blue skies and calm waters, Marsh Creek Lake is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon kayaking in Philadelphia.

Besides the gorgeous scenery, Marsh Creek Lake is known for their Night Tours. Offered every other Friday, seasoned tour guides provide vibrant glow sticks to help you navigate around the lake and experience it under the stars!

If you’re looking for a quiet getaway, Marsh Creek Lake is a perfect place to start. In addition to kayak and paddle board rentals, Marsh Creek Lake also has lessons and can host parties. Rentals are available at West Launch Boat Rentals. Or, feel free to launch your own boat too!

How to Get There: If driving, take I-76 W toward Harrisburg, then take PA-100 N to Park Rd. Turn left and continue to the lake. If not driving, you can take the SEPTA Paoli/Thorndale Line to Downington.

Penn’s Landing

Located near Spruce Street Harbor Park and the Hilton Penn’s Landing, kayaking Penn’s Landing is certain to be a unique way to see the city! You can kayak, paddleboat, or even rent rowboats to explore the Delaware River’s beachfront.

Kayaking Penn’s Landing is a great outdoor activity for kids and families living in Philadelphia. The Penn’s Landing paddle area is in a safe harbor where you are free to paddle and float to your heart’s content. Since Penn’s Landing recently added kayaking to its waterfront, it is in high demand. Kayaking here is best suited for kids and those looking to see some of Philadelphia’s history (not a long, scenic paddle).

Paddling at Penn’s Landing is sponsored by Independence Seaport Museum. The museum’s Workshop on the Water offers outdoors classes and rents kayaks. If you already have a boat, feel free to explore the harbor on your own!

How to Get There: If driving, head east on Chestnut St. over the freeway to get to Penn’s Landing on the Delaware river. If not driving, you can take the SEPTA MFL Line toward Frankfort to 2nd Station which is near Penn’s Landing.

Sailboats, boats, canoes, and kayaks take the water at Nockamixon State Park! Visitors enjoy paddling around the tree-lined coasts.
There are numerous ways to enjoy the waters of Nockamixon State Park! Photo Credit: (FlickrCC)

Nockamixon State Park

Nockamixon State Park may be one of the most treasured places in Pennsylvania. Close enough for a day trip, kayaking in Philadelphia’s Nockamixon State Park is absolutely breathtaking come Spring, Summer, or Fall.

With over 1,000 acres of waterfront property, you can do some serious kayaking on Nockamixon Lake. Full of fish, this is the perfect spot for fishing and taking a luxurious paddle along the forested coastline.

Dedicated to outdoor education and environmental conservation, Nockamixon State Park has tons of classes for people of all ages looking to learn more about nature and the park itself during your visit.

In total, the lake has six public launch sites, but Three Mile Run and Haycock launch ramps are best suited for kayaks and canoes. If not launching your own boat, feel free to rent gear from Nockamixon Boat Rental.

How to Get There: If driving, take N Broad St north and turn left onto Fort Washington Expy. Then, turn right onto Hilltown Pike and continue onto Blooming Glen Rd/Minsi Trail. Continue on PA-313 W, and then turn right and take PA-563 N to the park. If not driving, there is a bus once daily to Quakertown by Fullington Railways. Or, you can rent a car from Avis.

Core Creek Park

The small lake located in Core Creek Park is the perfect way to ease into kayaking this Summer. Between the flat water, hiking and picnic areas, you’ll never want to leave!

Core Creek Park’s waterfront access to Lake Luxembourg makes the transition from land to water super easy. A leisurely paddle around the lake doesn’t take too long, and is a great place to work on your paddle skills.

More experienced paddlers love Core Creek Park’s Moonlight Paddle Tours which explores the lake under the stars. Whether you are a newbie looking for a quiet place to practice or a seasoned paddle looking to kayak in a new environment, Lake Luxembourg can do it all.

You can launch your own boat or you can rent kayaks at the park from Core Creek Boat Rental.

How to Get There: If driving, take I-95 N toward Trenton, then take exit 3 towards US-1 Business N and turn left onto Woodbourne Rd. Continue here to the park. If not driving, you can take the SEPTA West Trenton Line to Langhorne (Core Creek Park).

Kayaking down the Delaware River is a great outdoor activity for the whole family! Kayaking in Philadelphia is a must-do activity this summer!
Kayaking down the Delaware River is a great activity for the whole family! Photo Credit: Stephen Harris (Flickr CC)

Delaware River

Separating Pennsylvania from New Jersey, the Delaware River is a diverse flat water river with excellent wildlife and campgrounds along the way.

Accessing this beautiful natural waterway is super easy- there are put-ins along routes 80, 84, 6, 206, 209 and 521. Once on the water, paddlers of all abilities can cruise down long stretches of the river and make camp along the way.

Kayaking along the Delaware River is a great choice for kayakers looking for long stretches of uninterrupted water and trips that can last up to a few days. While paddling, you may even spot wild turkeys, bears, and elk!

Bonus: Besides canoeing and kayaking, the Delaware River has the perfect conditions for tubing. Floating down the river on a sunny day is like having your own lazy river. Twin River Tubing has everything you need to make your journey awesome.

You can launch your own boat at any of the access points along the highway for free. Or, you can rent from Adventure Sports. Spots like the Delaware River make kayaking in Philadelphia an absolute epic time!

How to Get There: If driving, put-ins are located along highway routes 80, 84, 6, 206, 209 and 521. The best way to access the water is through these sites. If you need to rent a car, Avis has you covered.

Darby Creek

  • Location: Southeastern Philadelphia
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at Ridley Marina

A small place with huge opportunities, Darby Creek is home to scenic water trails and some of the most treasured historical landmarks in Pennsylvania.

Darby Creek is a wonderful place for all abilities. The creek itself is great for beginners and its larger tributaries provide more challenging water for intermediate paddlers. Flowing in and out of the Delaware River, Darby Creek is a peaceful spot for kayak enthusiasts to gather and explore Philadelphia’s natural beauty.

After a day of paddling through lush forests, visitors can tour the Swedish Cabin built in the 1650s and the Blue Bell Inn, built in the 1760s. Members of the Darby Creek Watershed work hard to preserve these pieces of American history for visitors to enjoy. Darby Creek also runs through John Heinz Wildlife Refuge– the first wildlife refuge established in America!

Clearly, there is no shortage of places to explore around Darby Creek. You can launch your own boat at the watershed. Or, you can rent gear from the Ridley Marina located next to the park.

How to Get There: If driving, start on I-95 S, then take exit 8 onto Stewart Ave and turn right. Turn right again on Chester Pike and finally, turn right onto S Swarthmore ave and continue to the creek. If not driving, you can take the SEPTA Line 11 Tram to Darby Creek Transportation Center.

The scenic Batsto River is a wonderful place to challenge your kayak skills in NJ.
Batsto River in Wharton State Forest is a scenic and challenging paddle! Photo Credit: Hammonton Photography (Flickr CC)

Brandywine River

Brandywine River Valley is a beautiful landscape with sloping hills and gorgeous greenery. The meandering river’s gentle flow makes it a wonderful spot for first-time paddlers and large groups.

Wilderness Canoe Trips is the prime outfitter for canoeing and kayaking down the Brandywine River. They have courses for 1.5, 6, and 12 mile paddles, and will help you get started on your water adventure (not a guided tour).

Visitors also love coming to Brandywine for its American history. In addition to some of the most scenic kayaking in PA, paddlers can watch Civil War Reenactments and tour the town’s historical landmarks.

Although it is a bit far from downtown Philadelphia, kayaking down Brandywine River is the ideal paddle experience. With beautiful nature on all sides, this can be the peaceful escape you were looking for. You can launch your own boat from the Wilderness Canoe Trips waterfront access and rent gear from them too.

How to Get There: If driving, start on I-95 S and take exit 8 for Rte 202 N. Immediately take the next exit onto Powder Mill Rd heading west. Then, take the next left onto W Park Dr and turn immediately right onto Rockland Rd. This road will take you all the way up onto Brandywine Creek State Park. The best way to get here is by car. If you need to rent a car, check out Avis.

Wharton State Forest

The Batsto River located in Wharton State Forest is an awesome place to go canoeing and kayaking near Philadelphia. Open glades and forests surround the river, which also has an abundance of wildlife.

There are tons of guided tours for the Batsto River, but if you want to explore on your own, almost every tour launches from Quaker Bridge. From there, the river has many sections. As you paddle, you will go through narrow, twisted streams, swamps, ponds, and finally end up at at Batsto Lake.

Due to the rugged terrain and flux in water, kayaking the Batsto River is best suited for intermediate and experienced paddlers. Paddlers really looking for an outback experience should camp at Lower Forge Campground. It is notorious for its “primitive” setting. Remember to bring your own water!

Like mentioned above, you can launch your own boat from Quaker Bridge or Hampton Furnance. Or, take a guided tour and rent gear from Mick’s Canoe & Kayak Rental.

How to Get There: If driving, take I-676 S and continue south on the Atlantic City Expy. Take exit 28 and turn left on 12th St. Then, turn right onto Central Ave and continue onto Pleasant Mills Rd (NJ 542). This road will take you to nearby Batsto Village. Driving is the best way to get here. If you need to rent a car, Avis has you covered.

A kayak floats down one of the many rivers in  PA- kayaking in Philadelphia is always a beautiful and exciting outdoor activity!
Kayaking in Philadelphia is a wonderful way to explore the great outdoors! Photo Credit: Jim Mullhaupt (Flickr CC)

Additional Resources

What to Pack for Kayaking in Philadelphia

  • Swimsuit: Wearing a swimsuit is essential for being out on the water! When canoeing and kayaking, chances are you are going to get wet, so best to be prepared! Click here to compare styles and prices for our favorite swimsuits.
  • Sunglasses: Being out on the water is beautiful, but the water can really reflect light! Make sure to bring a pair of sunglasses and croakies to keep them from falling off.
  • Hat: It’s best to keep the sun of your head to keep you cool. Whether you prefer a nice bucket hat or a vintage baseball cap, keeping cool will ensure an awesome trip.
  • Water Bottle: Keeping hydrated is no joke! Paddling is a great way to exercise and relax, but that means it takes a lot of energy too! Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your trip with these cool water bottles.
  • Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Don’t let the elements stop you from having an amazing paddle! I recommend bringing sunscreen and bug spray in the boat with ou to ward off any pests and sunburns.

For a more complete packing list, check out our ultimate kayaking packing list to help you prepare for all of your outdoor kayak adventures. These essentials will make your time kayaking and canoeing in San Diego an unforgettable experience!

Related Links to Kayaking in Philadelphia